Development Blog: Week 4

Week 4 was our initial review from all faculty. On Monday, we had all faculty members come in to talk with us about our current direction and receive their feedback as to what could be improved. We received mostly positive feedback as to the core premise of the world, and the current approach we have to the gameplay and artistic direction. Above all else, the near universal piece of constructive feedback we received from faculty was scope. Our narrative was a bit broad and complex for the scope of our project. Our game’s length will not exceed beyond a few hours, and our story took almost 20 minutes to fully explain. We should not be choosing a narrative that takes up that large of a portion of the game, so we should find a way to cut it down. Also, having a magic system that does not come from some source is harder to explain to players.

Our original intention was to have the player be able to choose to fight for either faction in the conflict, but that essentially tasks us with having to create two separate games in one. We wanted to let the player choose between both sides because we thought it would be the best way to convey that there is nuance to both factions. We wanted either side to have a justification to be the “lesser evil”. With our short development cycle, we decided to instead pivot to just having a single route the player goes through, and show the morally grey areas of both factions through the world and dialogue.

                  Our artist Min’s first sketch of Gothic Church architecture

Feedback we received from an art perspective mainly came to the “why’s” of our current direction. They wanted to know why we chose the reference images we chose, and what parts of them speak to us in particular. Now that we have our setting in order, faculty want to see multiple variations on every type of environment and character. Our artists began to sketch out several variations of a knight to try to find what we want our knights to be like. From capes to spikes on armor, we began to create any version of a knight we could think of. We are taking inspiration from real world references, and trying to create a unique variation that fits in our setting. They also began to sketch out environments and architecture that fit our theme. Tall, imposing structures to resemble the religious cornerstone of our world will give the enemy faction and imposing and smothering feeling when the player finds themselves at the enemy’s doorstep.

                                    Playtest of our plague mechanic with faculty

While we did get some troubled responses from our narrative approach, our mechanics were very well received! Faculty were impressed that we had prototypes ready to show to them, and wanted to see them fleshed out more as soon as possible. After speaking with them on Monday, we decided to begin to implement the Plague mechanic into the game. We created a Plague Doctor unit (the black die above) that has the power to inflict and cure the plague to any adjacent units. We then added a dice roll at the beginning of each turn to check if units adjacent to one sick with plague would get infected, which is shown by placing a purple die underneath the unit. There was a 75% chance of the plague spreading, so the plague would quickly go out of control quickly. When units sick with the plague would fall in battle, their corpse would stay on the field still being able to infect units adjacent to them. 

Faculty really enjoyed the Plague mechanic, and how they were able to spread it themselves. They liked how our mechanics directly connected with our world, and reinforced the deadliness of the plague. This notion of spreading and curing plague by the Plague Doctor gave us the realization that this unit is essentially a great vessel for the main character in our gameplay. We decided to follow this notion, and center our story around the Plague Doctor. Since we previously decided to make our player fight on only one side, we thought it would be best to have the player fight for the Devil (who gives the player the plague powers at the start of the game) so they are able to use our mechanic to its fullest.